Advocating for Yourself at Your Job. Does Your Diabetes Ever Hold You Back?

Dr Gary
By Dr GaryCA Latest Reply 2018-03-29 21:56:21 -0500
Started 2018-03-03 20:21:22 -0600

I recently posted an article about asking for a raise. It was focused on how individuals living with chronic conditions like diabetes may hold themselves back from advocating for themselves at their jobs – like asking for a raise. They may be concerned that days when they couldn’t make it into work, or days when they weren’t quite feeling their best, and needed some additional consideration by managers and co-workers, may limit their bargaining power.

Most likely, if you are going to receive a raise, you are also going to have to ask for one. And that’s where things get complicated. On one hand, clients talk about how they know they did well in their job and has received positive reviews. Yet, they also remember a few comments from managers that implied they were performing well in spite of their “health issues.” Or being told by a manager that they were hoping they would be able to manage their condition more effectively in the future.

My clients living with chronic conditions often talk about other ways in which they hold themselves back from advocating for themselves at their jobs.

Here’s a link to my article:

What about you?

Are there times when you hold back from being your own advocate at work because of your diabetes? If so, what concerns related to your diabetes cause you to hold yourself back?

And if you have learned how to advocate for yourself at your job, any advice to share?

Looking forward to hearing from you!

9 replies

deprived90 2018-03-24 21:46:46 -0500 Report

I think one has to be able to function without burping after every word or phrase, vomiting, fainting, and needing disposable clothes due to volitle diarrhea. The chronic condition needs to be reasonably under control. For me, I have no medical services that care to help. Down to 500 to 300 calories a day and water and no relief. Suffering nerve foot pain and vision retinal issues. I am not in a position to advocate anything for me.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2018-03-29 21:56:21 -0500 Report

Hi deprived90, it's nice to meet you. Glad you found your way to Diabetic Connect. Really sorry to hear you have so much going on with your health. I understand what you are saying about the condition being reasonably under control. I hope you are doing what you can to take care of yourself, and that you are getting support. Stay in touch with us, ok?

Corrie Jo
Corrie Jo 2018-03-14 21:29:26 -0500 Report

Self employed. Customers don't care if you are sick. Kind of like an athlete that is hurt, or a stage performer…the show must go on. Like it or not.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2018-03-17 22:12:14 -0500 Report

Hey Corrie Jo, I know what you mean. Spoken like a true self-employed individual. The show must go on. I worry that all of us self-employed people may not always take good care of ourselves, and push ourselves too hard. I know I cross that line at times.

Stuart1966 2018-03-09 23:35:23 -0600 Report

When from fully employed for 23 years, then to a series of self employed and multiple part time jobs (simultanosly) , and now only one miserable part time job for minimum wage.

I fear it is possible though I do not nor can I articulate how.

Compare us to any co workers then stamp a label on our head DIABETIC, employers wont play fair. My advice, under no circumstances do I ever share my chronic condition. Bias is not a good opponent for employment

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2018-03-17 22:10:27 -0500 Report

Hey Stuart, I appreciate your perspective here. Sounds like you have been around the block in the work world, I have had some similar experiences over the years. And I understand your concerns about sharing health information. Extreme caution is a good idea in selecting who knows and who doesn't. My concern about choosing not to share is what could happen if you did have a diabetic emergency, and having someone who knows your situation and could react appropriately. I know this must feel to many diabetics like being between a rock and a hard place.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2018-03-11 19:10:50 -0500 Report

I have worked with people with Cancer, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Asthma, Epilepsy. late stage Parkinson's Disease and many other diseases. None of them ever faced bias from our employer, then again I worked for the State. We didn't know a co-worker had Epilepsy until he had a seizure. When he returned to work, he said the Personnel Director and the Hospital Director were upset because they didn't know. He was there for six more months until he passed away in his sleep. He said at first he was embarrassed because he had a seizure at work but was glad he no longer had to keep that secret because he feared he would lose his job if anyone found out.

I think people fear the unknown. I don't know anyone who has lost a job because he or she had a chronic illness. The thing is there is no such thing as a secret. If something happens while at work, everyone will know your secret.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2018-03-04 11:08:59 -0600 Report

Hi Dr. Gary,

I live by the rule that nothing can hold you back but you. There are diabetics in all fields of employment including sports.

I was working when I was diagnosed and never missed one day of work due to my diabetes. Were there days that I when I was having a high or low when I went to work, yes. I still went.

Another co-worker and I were diagnosed at our Gala and she only missed two days but it was not due to her diabetes. The advantage we had was the CEO asked everyone for their results and asked how she could help us. Since we were the only two, when her sister was diagnosed she came to us for our help in helping her to learn how to help her sister.

People think they should keep their diabetes a secret. That can be a big mistake because your co-workers and family could become your first responders should something happen to you and for all you know there are other diabetics where you work.

Years ago, I worked for the State, my boss was Satan in disguise. Absolutely nothing was beneath her. I secretly learned her job and when she was in a bad accident, she made me acting manager. 4 years later they finally got enough to fire her thanks to a new Department Head. The day she was fired was 5 minutes after I started my 3-11 shift. The Department Head came into the Operators Room carrying a box and he literally put the box in my lap and said the unit is yours, fix it. The next day he asked me to come in early and because he was the Building Manager, he began to teach me everything about the building. I said to him, if you want me to also do your job, you have to raise my salary. He did and my raise came to roughly $900.00.

The thing is this, learn your job duties and the duties of your boss and the jobs of everyone else in your department. Self educate. When you want a raise, ask for one. If you don't get it, look at in-house job openings. These are the jobs that are first filled in-house before people posted to the public. Redo your resume and add new job skills and submit your resume.

The other thing to do is to take any notes you take from other people and put them in a file and take the file home. Your office and desk belong to the company and you have no idea who will look to see what you have or are doing and possibly sabotage you. I have seen that happen lots of times. When you are trying to move up, do not tell ANYONE. You have no idea who people know.

Finally, speak up for yourself. If have found that the boss usually has no idea what their employees have learned or what new skills they have. If you have an idea on how to improve something you are doing, think about the pro's and con's. Write it out and again do it on you home computer (the server and computer belongs to the company). At a meeting where the boss is asking for new innovative ideas, share your idea and be able to explain the pro's and con's and how your idea may be modified. Ask for a trial run. If it works, kudos for you. If it doesn't at least you gave it a try.

The one thing that will prevent you from moving ahead is the inability to work with others, poor attendance, lack of work ethics, not willing to make new changes and not speaking up for yourself.

I also know that people hate rejection. You are NOT entitled to a raise, you EARN a raise.. Do not feel bad if you are turned down the first time. Ask why and when you are told, note it and make changes to do better. When you ask for a raise list all the skills and duties you have undertaken when you first got your job as it just might impress your boss enough to consider giving your raise.

Diabetes will only hold you back if you allow it to do so.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2018-03-08 11:36:35 -0600 Report

Hi Joyce! I really appreciate your empowered message here. I have talked with many clients who choose to keep their chronic condition a secret at their jobs. Some have assumed they will be treated differently, or be expected to be less productive or competent, and so they choose not to disclose. While they be making an assumption here, they may also have picked up on the message that this would indeed be a problem for their boss. As you said, non-disclosure can be risky in that your co-workers may not be prepared to provide the help you need if you do have a problem. Those with a supportive leader, who understands their diabetes and wants to help them to be as successful as possible, are fortunate. We need more leaders like that in organizations. I think you have a realistic attitude about what it takes to get ahead in an organization. Unfortunately, most organizations have their share of office politics, and it's up to each employee to do their best possible work while also effectively managing their own careers. I think it's possible to be a really great team player while also preparing for your next role, as you said. I still believe that hard work, supplemented by kindness and respect for others, can lead to success. Being an emotionally intelligent person, being attuned to the emotional state of those around you, can get you a long way at a job, as you suggested. Thanks for checking in.

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